Christmas is Josh and Hollie Wright’s “favourite time of year” and, after what has been a difficult 2023, festive preparations are in full swing for the family of four.
The couple’s second son Dustin was born 12 weeks early in February, weighing a tiny 2.4lb. He spent eight weeks in hospital before being allowed home to join older brother Josh, now 20 months.
Chatting exclusively to OK!, the couple say the tot is now “loving life”, adding that they’re preparing for a Wright family Christmas extravaganza.
“To have both boys this year will be something really special and we can’t wait,” professional footballer Josh, 34, told us. “We’ve got one tree up and the other is going up tonight – Hollie’s making a Disney tree for the boys. I’ve got to go and pick up a few outdoor trees today and we’re doing lights all outside and in the bushes. We love it!”
But the holiday is about far more than just lights and presents for the couple. It’s about getting together with their close-knit families, including Josh’s sister Jess, 38, and brother Mark, 36.
“With everything going on in the world at the moment, Christmas is a time for people to come together and relax a bit,” he says. “We love everything about it – the socialising, all the food and drink. And now, with the boys, Santa will come down the chimney and it’ll be even more special.”
The couple married in a gorgeous ceremony in Majorca in 2018, where Hollie, 34, was supported by a 12-strong crew of bridesmaids while Josh’s brother Mark was best man.
Last year they spent Christmas Day with Hollie’s mum and dad, so this time they’re heading to the home of Josh’s parents, Carol and Mark Sr, for the all-important lunch and present swap.
Luckily, the couples will be doing Secret Santa this year, mainly to keep stress levels down!
Last month, Mark and his former Corrieactress wife Michelle Keegan, 36, unveiled the impressive Christmas decorations at their £3.5 million Essex mansion, which is decked out in hundreds of outdoor lights and boasts a towering tree in the hallway.
When it comes to lavish festive decorations, Hollie admits they “try” to compete with Mark and Michelle, but hint that – unlike them – the couple might have had a bit of help.
“If Mark was up a ladder throwing them all up himself it would be different,” Josh says playfully. “This is all handmade and just me and Hollie. We think our tree’s the best, they think their tree is. It is what it is, but we love what we’ve got!”
Josh is especially excited about his kids’ presents this year, which might just include a two-seater mini electric sports car that they can use in the garden.
“It’s all about the kids now and they love anything with wheels,” he says. “Dustin can be the passenger, then he can drive it when he’s big enough.”
Hollie says she “doesn’t have a list” of dream gifts and is just happy celebrating with everyone who’s precious to her – her three boys.
But while it’s a happy occasion for the family, Hollie in particular is very aware they could’ve been facing a very different sort of Christmas if things had gone differently with Dustin’s birth.
She and Josh recently marked World Prematurity Day by linking up with Pampers to raise awareness of the plight of families with premature babies. The nappy brand is currently offering their Preemie Protection range – which is specially designed to fit around medical lines and leads – to families for free.
Hollie says talking about those early weeks of baby Dustin’s life is difficult, but she wants to shine a light on the issue.
“It’s hard to look back on it and think about it because we went through so much and it was a really hard time mentally and physically,” she says. “But I’d love to raise awareness and help other parents.”
Josh adds, “We were petrified and it was daunting – we were in the unknown. The hospital, nurses and doctors supported and guided us. When a baby’s born at that age they’re not ready to be in the world yet, so they need extra help.”
Thankfully, the Wrights had a happy ending with Dustin, who’s now doing “amazing” and actually started crawling the day before the family spoke to us for our catch-up.
“He loves life, he smiles and he’s doing really well,” Hollie beams.
Dad Josh knows exactly what it’s like growing up with a bigger brother – there are two years between him and Mark – so he can relate to the dynamic between his own kids.
“Josh is brilliant with Dustin,” he says. “Now and again Josh might be trying to sit on him or lay on him, but he’s gentle. It’s as if he knows what he’s doing.
“I’ve got an older brother and I’ve learnt so much from him and vice versa, and I think that’s what’s happening here.”
Josh and Hollie’s families were a huge support when they were spending time with Dustin in hospital every day. Carol, Josh’s mum, helped lighten their load by making sure the family fridge was always well-stocked, bringing round soup and pies.
“We are very fortunate and we really don’t take it for granted,” says Josh. “We’ve both got big, loving families that supported us from day dot and that will never stop.”
But have the deliveries of Carol’s home-cooked delights since stopped?
“I’d be lying if I said she hasn’t dropped round a few dinners in the last month or two and we hadn’t gone there for a few meals,” Josh laughs. “We’ve always got helping hands around us and our mums love having grandchildren. And long may that continue!”
Pampers has launched a new online platform that delivers nappies for premature babies to parents’ homes for free. Visit pampersforpreemies.pampers.co.uk for details
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